England survive scare as Jack Leach inspires first-ever Test series whitewash in Sri Lanka

JACK LEACH produced a sensational direct hit to send England towards an historic 3-0 whitewash of Sri Lanka.

Leach struck just when England were starting to worry about a partnership between two fine players that was threatening to spoil their party.

 Jack Leach inspired England's victory on day four in Colombo

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Jack Leach inspired England's victory on day four in Colombo
 England ultimately completed the Test series whitewash

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England ultimately completed the Test series whitewash

Kusal Mendis and Roshen Silva had put on 102 for the sixth-wicket and Sri Lanka were within 142 runs of their target of 327.

But then Leach swooped, picked up and threw the ball from mid-off and it shattered the stumps at the striker’s end with Mendis a yard short of his ground.

The rest of the England fielders erupted with joy – and Joe Root’s team duly went on to win the Third Test by 42 runs.

They became only the third England team in history to secure a whitewash away from home in Test series of three or more matches.

 England celebrated after a 102-run partnership threatened defeat

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England celebrated after a 102-run partnership threatened defeat
 Jack Leach was on fire with the ball and in the field on day four

AP:Associated Press
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Jack Leach was on fire with the ball and in the field on day four

The others were against South Africa in 1895-96 and in New Zealand in 1962-63.

But England were made to wait as they endured a tenth-wicket stand of 58 runs between captain Suranga Lakmal and Malinda Pushpakumara.

No11 Pushpakumara, in particular, enjoyed himself with a few lusty boundaries and finished 42 not out.

Pushpakumara needed treatment after being struck on the helmet by Stuart Broad in the first over with the second new ball.

 Keaton Jennings kept up his scintillating short-leg form today

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Keaton Jennings kept up his scintillating short-leg form today
 England celebrated Jack Leach's incredible run-out to break the danger pair

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England celebrated Jack Leach's incredible run-out to break the danger pair

Broad sent down a couple more short deliveries in the same over and was warned for intimidation by umpire Chris Gaffaney.

But then, from the fourth ball after tea, Lakmal was lbw to Leach and the players could finally celebrate.

England appeared certain of victory when Sri Lanka began day four with 53-4. But they were made to work hard for their win.

Nightwatchman Lakshan Sandakan hung around for half-an-hour before edging a catch to Ben Stokes at slip off Leach.

Then Mendis and Silva joined forces with a highly-accomplished partnership against the spinning ball. Both looked to be positive and were severe whenever Adil Rashid dropped short.

England were desperately searching for a wicket and it arrived from the unexpected source of Leach’s bullet left arm throw.

It was the big turning point of the day.

 Jack Leach took the final wicket as England eventually clinched the win

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Jack Leach took the final wicket as England eventually clinched the win

Niroshan Dickwella was put down on seven when he swept at Leach, top-edged the ball over the head of wicketkeeper Ben Foakes and Keaton Jennings, running from short fine leg, was unable to gather the ball.

It was not costly, however, because Dickwella was pouched at short by Jennings off Leach and then Dilruwan Perera fell in near-identical fashion off Moeen Ali.

Silva was given out after England successfully reviewed a not out lbw decision. The players spotted that the ball brushed Silva’s pad on the way to hitting the middle of his bat.

At that point, Sri Lanka were 226-9 and surely the final wicket was a formality.

But Lakmal and Pushpakumara conjured up their partnership which had England twitching until Leach took his fourth wicket of the innings.

Moeen Ali also had four wickets and he and Leach finished with 18 apiece in the series.

Even though Root won all three tosses and Sri Lanka are a shadow of the side they were five years ago, this has still be a fine achievement by England.

Away wins are rare, away whitewashes hardly ever happen.

England vs Sri Lanka cricket halted when stray dog runs on pitch

JACK LEACH produced a sensational direct hit to send England towards an historic 3-0 whitewash of Sri Lanka.